Have you ever tried to start a car that has been sitting awhile? You know the machinery is there to make the car run, but the engine is cold, the fluids aren’t flowing, it may even be out of gas. It still looks like a car, and has the potential to act like a car but initially it may not be able to respond the way a car should.
The winter months of homeschooling often find many children in the same position (not to mention their teachers). They look like students, they have the potential to be students, but their engines are cold. The fluids aren’t flowing and they may need refueling. The holidays provide an enjoyable rest and reward for the months of work in the fall. The excitement of seeing family and friends, the celebration of Christmas, and the special events all add up to make some of the most vivid memories of childhood. As we return to schooling, instead of cookie-baking and pastry-making, mom once again becomes the keeper of schedules, the lesson plan writer, the checker of chores, and enforcer of learning…you get the idea. She, or the homeschooling dad, resumes all the duties of the homeschooling parent.
Let’s make sure we’ve got this picture straight. It’s cold and rainy or snowy. There isn’t a break in sight. You start back teaching, maybe not January 2nd but close to it. There they sit, feeling as excited as you would feel about cleaning out the garage. How do you, the parent educator, handle this time of transition, which is often very trying for even the most experienced teacher or homeschooler? As you get back to the routine of school, consider your children’s feelings. As adults, we find it hard to return to work after a vacation, so the children cannot be expected to bound out of bed, eager for math and language arts. Do what helps you when you have to return to routine. Invite your children back to school. Add in a new and exciting read aloud book, find some fun science projects, or start a new unit study.
God’s love and grace play a large role in our being able to accept the requirements of life. For our children, their requirements are in the form of responsibilities in our homes and the work of learning. As I think of God loving my children, I think of His love drawing them into obedience. His love may be seen in the form of encouragement, a success or a victory. Sometimes His love will be made known as family acceptance and forgiveness in spite of a failure on a child’s part. God’s love enables us to repent when we have been wrong, without shame or humiliation. His love motivates us and His grace enables us to go on.
God’s grace, His unmerited favor, can enable us to succeed when times are tough. It can enable your children to succeed when something is difficult for them. It enabled the apostle Paul to continue amidst adversity and pain. As he prayed for a thorn to be removed from his flesh, God’s answer was:
It seems that Paul did a great many things right, so you might think he would not have need of unmerited favor because he could receive favor for all the good things he did, and all of his obedience to God. Apparently, Paul needed God’s grace just as you and I do.
Grace is made available to those who are in need. Grace is not available to the proud (James 4:6) but is given to the humble, those willing to admit their need. If you are striving to do everything right in your schooling and make your children do everything right, then the winter months may be tough for you. If you feel stressed, discouraged or inadequate from trying to make it all work, trying times may be ahead. If you will “draw near to the throne of grace (Hebrews 4:16), however, to “find grace to help in time of need”, you and your children may experience a release from striving and a freedom that can allow God’s grace to sustain you.
How do we receive God’s grace? We ask. We humble ourselves, admit our need for God’s power to do what we cannot, and then we rest in the fact that He will accomplish what we, in our own strength and wisdom, can not. In our homeschooling, God’s grace is evident on a daily basis. When we rely on God to give us ideas and then we follow up on them, He can be the Master Teacher. When we listen to His voice instead of our fears, our children can be taught and encouraged and motivated in such a way that they enjoy learning and come to know and recognize God’s grace as well. We can extend love to a struggling teen, because God’s grace will direct him to the truth about himself and about God. We can allow the young boy or girl time to learn to read proficiently, knowing that God’s arm is not short, nor his hearing dull concerning your prayers.
Why is it important for our children to see God’s grace extended to them? Because without God’s grace we can’t see our Savior’s face:
“For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, not of works, lest anyone should boast.” -Ephesians 2: 8-9
The car I talked about earlier is in need of grace. It is in need of time and attention. As those things are given it will be able to run. Starting the car without them could damage the engine. The car will begin to run, and the damage may go unseen, but it may limit the car’s useful life. Meet your children’s individual needs to be primed, or prepared to work. Seek God for the avenues of motivation and encouragement that will draw out their particular gifts and talents. The results will be worth it.
Debbie Strayer became a part of the homeschooling movement in 1988 when she and husband Greg began their journey as homeschoolers. Prior to that time, Debbie received her Bachelor’s and Master’s Degrees in education. Since joining this wonderful movement that combines the importance of spiritual and educational development, she had many years of experience as an educator, author, speaker, consultant and homeschool evaluator.